|Now is the time for a major rethink for Palestinian resistance|
Now is the time for a major rethink for Palestinian resistance
John Jennings, The Oswestry Forum, Salop UK
Some optimists claim that the current leadership's strategy for resistance, whether that of the duly elected PA in Gaza or its usurper version in Ramallah, is simply not fit for purpose. Such a claim is praise indeed, for to be dysfunctional implies existence and the sad reality is that there hasn't been any national strategy for nigh on twenty years and counting. Consequently, despite the heroic activities of the second Intifada, resistance has tended to become almost entirely ad hoc comprising a mix of organised militia, Palestinian individuals and various international groups. Hamas strives of course to maintain the fiction of a militaristic response. Nevertheless, the resurgent grass-roots resistance continues apace comprising direct action campaigns and civil disobedience, largely village-based and led by local popular committees. A number of local campaigns, both local and national are supported in a variety of ways by civil society organisations for example the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall campaign. This networking of popular committees and Palestinian NGOs captures the essence of a resurgent resistance in Palestine. The tactical innovations obligatory for any major campaign of nonviolence are there for all too see. It quite obviously constitutes a bottoms-up attempt par excellence that promises to match that of the First Intifada and the Great Revolt of the 1930s. But, from Israel's point of view, the situation is ideal; managing a plethora of random, small-scale activities is infinitely preferable to the onslaught of a concerted strategic network. The critical element missing therefore is a national organisation with a specific remit on strategy to forge a critical mass of activities. Now, whether that organisation emerges from a top-down, bottoms-up merger between leadership and grass roots or evolves directly from a bottoms-up process is open to question but emerge it must and sooner rather than later.
2. Resistance: a short history
But what about the overall historical performance; has Palestinian resistance provided evidence of success? The answer is a qualified 'Yes'. In successive instances of resistance from the early to late 1920s, the 1936-39 Rebellion and the entirety of the whole period stemming from the 1950s through to the late 1980s, there was quite simply cause and effect; effectiveness broadly proportional to ‘input’. However, the resistance overall was either unsustained or of low intensity as in the 1920s, albeit rising to unprecedented heights in the mid to late 1930s or curtailed prematurely as in the late 1980s. There were many reasons for this staccato effect, the overwhelming strength of their adversaries, lack of unity among the Palestinians and importantly lack of strategic nouse. But a central key fact remains, the effectiveness of the resistance was ratcheted up with each successive revolt with a corresponding quantum leap in concessions.